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Alright Guys, Here Are the Best Casual Watches Priced Under $500

Alright Guys, Here Are the Best Casual Watches Priced Under $500

Looking for a Casual-Wear Watch That You Can Rock With Jeans and a T-Shirt? This List is For You!

Updated May 19, 2018

There are a lot of people out there looking for a great casual watch to wear that find themselves getting lost in the sea of options available to them. I get it, especially because Amazon is flooded with options from nearly every brand you can think of… and not all of them are decent.

So, today, let’s have a look at a bunch of watches I’d rock if I wanted something casual and awesome. I either own or have hands-on reviewed every watch on this list. 

Update Log

May 19, 2018




Criteria

Watches were chosen based on their grey-market affordability, expected or observed quality, and style.

Affordability

The price cap of $500 is based on grey-market affordability. Many watches listed here have MSRP’s over $1,000 but can be found on Amazon or Certified Watch Store for under $500.

Quality

I do not recommend watches that are poorly made or use inferior movements. With proper care, every watch recommended here will last for decades.

Style

Compatible with jeans and a t-shirt was considered the standard for “casual” style. If it needs a sleeve or a cuff, I left it out.

Casio F-91W & Casio A-158W Digital Watches

Casio F-91W

The Casio F91W-1 is one of the only watches on this list with its own Wikipedia page. Let’s let that sink in for a second. That’s how monumental this watch is. In fact, I spent 2,000+ words swooning over it in my article about it.

Since it’s inception nearly 25 years ago, the F91W-1 has gone on to become the lasting standard for how inexpensive digital watches should be done. It’s affordable – priced under $20 – and durable. Not only that, but the battery will last 10+ years and it comes stacked with a ton of functionality: a chronograph, alarm, auto calendar, and day/date display.

If you want a “wear everywhere” kind of watch, the F91W-1 is it.

See also:

Movement

Digital

Water Resistance

30m / 99ft

Model Number

F91W-1

MSRP

$30

Size

33mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Casio A158WA-1

Do not adjust your screen: you are indeed looking at the steel version of the F91W-1. As you probably guessed, I own both and wear both… regularly. In fact, in a recent trip from Canada to New Zealand, my wife and I each rocked the F91W-1 and A158W-1 (respectively).

The A158WA-1 is the slightly more upscale version of the F91W-1: it has a chrome-plastic face with a steel bracelet. It looks great without looking flashy, and priced under $20, it’s great value as well. Anyone who appreciates watches will give the A158WA-1 a nod, and people that don’t “get” watches won’t give it a second glance. No problems there.

Bonus: the built-in backlight will do an excellent job illuminating the left 40% of the screen, so at night you’ll still be able to tell what time it is… mostly.

See also:

Movement

Digital

Water Resistance

30m / 99ft

Model Number

A158WA-1

MSRP

$30

Size

33mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Timex Weekender 40 Wrist Shot

Timex Weekender

The Timex Weekender is one of the best values in affordable timekeeping. Not only that, but it’s as casual a design as you can get without crossing over into goofy territory. It looks good with nearly anything, and the model shown here – The “Weekender 40” – comes with a leather nato-style strap that can be swapped out in a matter of seconds (if you’re into strap swapping, we recommend Barton Watch Bands).

Integrated is Timex’s own nightlight, Indiglo, which is easily the industry standard for uniform dial illumination. Seriously, nighttime visibility is nearly as good at night as it is during the day.

Other perks: it’s inexpensive, generally found on Amazon for under $50, but not cheap. It looks good, is made better than its sub-$50 price would suggest, and will last you several years assuming even the most basic of care (AKA, don’t smash it with a hammer or something). Recommended.

See also:

Movement

Timex quartz

Water Resistance

30m / 99ft

Model Number

T2P495

MSRP

$57

Size

40mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Timex Expedition Field Chronograph

The “I want a watch to wear to work and on the trails” watch. If you’re looking for something versatile, the Expedition Field Chronograph is a pretty solid choice. Like most Timex watches, it’s affordable – currently priced under $50 on Amazon – and also like most Timex watches, it’s got Indiglo built-in.

This model of the Expedition series sports a date display, and most notably, an integrated chronograph that tracks up to 30 minutes of time. Sized at 43mm, it’s large enough to be a sizable companion on the wrist without eating up your wrist’s available real estate.

100m of water resistance and an estimated 3-year battery life make the Expedition quite capable, too. I wear mine all the time.

See also:

Movement

Timex quartz

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

T49905

MSRP

$82

Size

43mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Bulova Accutron II Alpha 98A136

Bulova Accutron II Alpha

The Bulova Accutron ii Alpha is a real gem, and not because it’s sort of shaped like one (okay, that was a stretch). It’s here for good reason: it’s gorgeous, and the movement kicks ass. There are several varieties of the Accutron ii Alpha available, including dressier steel on leather and gold on leather versions. The Accutron ii Alpha is sized at 42mm, though its case shape is unique in that it’s a shield as opposed to a circle. All versions showcase the Bulova BA101.10 Precisionist movement in all its battery-powered glory.

It’s an interesting look that sets it apart, but that’s not all: the movement, which is accurate to within 10 seconds per month, is a game changer for the perpetually-punctual; the second’s hand sweeps the dial, and I love the exposed coil at 10/11 o’clock. I enjoyed mine so much that I bought a second one (the steel and leather 96A155).

See also:

Movement

Quartz, BA101.10 Precisionist

Water Resistance

30m / 99ft

Model Number

98A136

MSRP

$450ish

Size

42mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Orient Symphony

Orient is an interesting watch brand in that they don’t try to be anything they don’t want to be. Where many watchmakers are trying to expand their appeal and diversify their product mix, Orient seems to be doing the opposite and doubling down on what it does well: inexpensive automatic watches made with precision and care.

I’ve said in my various Orient reviews that Orient makes watches for watchpeople: you won’t find an oversized, over-styled Orient. You will find Orients sporting house-made automatic movements and classic (some would say timeless) styling. For that reason, Orient is a brand I wholeheartedly recommend.

I reviewed the Symphony a few years back and still think that it’s a great piece for someone looking for a casual and affordable watch. It’s currently $88 on Amazon… I mean, come on!

See also:

Movement

Eco-Drive (solar powered)

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

AW1151-04E (shown here)

MSRP

$225

Size

44mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Citizen BM8475-26E

Citizen BM8475-26E

I never knew I was a fan of brown on black on orange until I got my hands on the Citizen BM8475-26E. This good-looking sun-seeker is a real solid piece of kit: a near-inexhaustible Eco-Drive movement keeps up to six months of charge and, as the name implies, is charged by light; 100m of water resistance means you can actually wear this when you’re going to get a little wet; it’s good looking and somewhat minimal, making it easier to pair with your wardrobe.

Oh, and it’s favorite color is orange.

I wear mine on the regular and recommend that you do as well. It’s a great watch, affordable to boot (currently under $150 on Amazon), and will never go out of style. Unless orange goes out of style… then you’re pretty much hosed.

See also:

Movement

Eco-Drive (solar powered)

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

BM8475-26E

MSRP

$225

Size

42mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Citizen Drive Series

Citizen’s Drive line of watches are sporty and casual, with great styling that lends itself to a variety of situations. The one pictured here is the AW1151-04E, which I reviewed on WYCA several years ago. True story: this watch, which I’ve had since 2013 at least, is still ticking along after joining me on many trips and adventures.

I’ve worn mine on vacations to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, during backwoods hikes through Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, and during so many events and broo-ha-ha’s that I can’t even remember. Throughout it all it’s remained a comfortable companion, diligently telling time and keeping me on top of it.

Thanks, Citizen, for making such a simple and kickass line of watches that nearly anyone can afford. That’s what I’m talking about.

See also:

Movement

Eco-Drive (solar powered)

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

AW1151-04E (shown here)

MSRP

$225

Size

44mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

Two Seiko 5's: SNK807 & SNK809

Seiko SNK809

Seiko’s SNK809 is a special watch for me: it’s the watch that helped get WYCA on the map, and to this day remains one of the most popular reviews on our site. It’s easy to see why, too: it’s affordable, automatic, and well-styled. It ticks the right boxes and provides plenty of functionality from the get go.

Inside the SNK809 is Seiko’s 7S26 automatic movement. Many ignore this movement because it’s fairly simplistic: it lacks hacking and hand-winding, and it’s not exactly the king of being accurate, either. Still, it’s robust and reliable – things that matter in a world where resource scarcity is a concern – and will last for decades if given even a modicum of proper care (ie- service it every 5-7 years).

I love mine, and so do the people I’ve given the SNK809 too. Every collection needs at least one SNK in it.

See also:

Movement

Automatic, 7S26

Water Resistance

30m / 99ft

Model Number

SNK809

MSRP

$150

Size

37mm

Crystal Material

Hardlex

Seiko SNK807

The SNK807 is a functionally-identical watch the SNK809, only it’s blue. Yep… that’s about the extent of the differences.

As part of the Seiko 5 line of watches, the SNK807 is subject to numerous requirements that the Seiko 5 line of watches must adhere to. The most notable of these requirements: it must have an automatic movement; it must have at least 30m of water resistance; it must have both a day and date display.

The strap is nothing special (the same remarks apply to the SNK809, and really any other SNK-series watch), but that’s an easy fix. Sized at 37mm means that burly wristed men out there may find it small, but not I- I think it’s juuuuust right.

See also:

Movement

Automatic, 7S26

Water Resistance

30m / 99ft

Model Number

SNK807

MSRP

$150

Size

37mm

Crystal Material

Hardlex

Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic 02

Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic

One of the first Hamilton’s I reviewed (way back in 2013), the Khaki Field is the definition of “affordable Swiss-made automatic casual watch”. No, really, it is!

This mechanical-marvel is currently available on Amazon for under $400, and inclusive of that price are a series of upscale trimmings that makes it a step-up compared to the lesser entrants on this list: notably, a sapphire crystal and Swiss-made automatic movement (ETA 2824-2). Sapphire means that the dial will look great for years to come (as its effectively scratch proof), and the automatic used – while considered a “workhorse” movement – is far and above superior to the lower-end mechanicals discussed earlier in this list.

You can get the Khaki in a couple of sizes: 38mm (for wimpy-wristed folks like myself) and 42mm (perfect for most men). Trust me, this will be one purchase you won’t regret.

See also:

Movement

Automatic, ETA 2824-2

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

HML-H70455533 (shown here)

MSRP

$575

Size

38mm – 42mm

Crystal Material

Sapphire

Hamilton Jazzmaster

I currently own two Jazzmasters: a Jazzmaster Day/Date, and a Jazzmaster Regulator. While those two pieces are priced just above our $500 threshold, the version shown here – the Jazzmaster Viewmatic – comes in at $497 on Amazon as of today.

Powered by an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, this particular Jazzmaster offers its wearer date display and all the benefits that come with using a high-quality Swiss-made automatic movement. It’s accurate, robust, and will still be on your wrist three decades from now as long as you take decent care of it.

Disclaimer: I have not reviewed this specific Jazzmaster hands-on, but I do own two others. Don’t hate me, okay? 🙂

See also:

Movement

Automatic, ETA 2824-2

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

H32715551 (shown here)

MSRP

$750

Size

44mm

Crystal Material

Sapphire

Seiko Recraft SNKM97 Dial Macro

Seiko Recraft

My first experience with Seiko’s Recraft line of watches was with the SNKN01. I really liked the SNKN01, but it’s the SNKM97 that really gets my gears going. No matter which of the Recrafts tickles your fancy, you’re in for a treat: solid build quality, and an automatic (the 7S26) under the hood.

The Recraft series is also quite affordable; the SNKM97, my personal favorite among them, is currently selling on Amazon for just $115. For that money, you’re getting a great watch and one that will look good (and keep goodish time) for years to come.

Note: the 7S26, as mentioned earlier in this list, is a robust but not particularly accurate movement. If you want precision, I recommend looking at some other options. If you want something with horological value and an affordable price tag, well, here it is!

See also:

Movement

Automatic, 7S26

Water Resistance

30m / 99ft

Model Number

SNKM97 (shown here)

MSRP

$250

Size

42mm

Crystal Material

Hardlex

Seiko Prospex World Time SSC509 Solar

Fancy yourself a traveler? Constantly moving from time zone to time zone? No problem! The Prospex World Time SSC509 is an excellent companion for your travels. Not only is this 42mm beauty a good looking watch that can be worn anytime, but it’s also quite capable: it’s got world-time functionality, date display, and a chronograph.

Sized just right for most guys, and sporting a crocodile-grain leather strap, you can feel good whenever you want to wear this watch- it’s always suitable. And, for the traveler in all of us, it will keep you punctual regardless of which time zone you’ve recently entered.

Bonus: the solar-powered movement can hold a six-month charge once fully powered up, and it sucks energy from nearly any light source. Fly on, my friend, fly on!

See also:

Movement

Solar-powered quartz

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

SSC509

MSRP

$450

Size

42mm

Crystal Material

Sapphire

Nick Harris Orion

Nick Harris’ Orion

Nick Harris

The only microbrand watch on this list (so far), the Orion watch is something truly special. It’s a watch made by a single watchmaker currently putting himself through watchmaking school. The story behind this piece is nothing sort of awesome, and the watch is everything you’d expect. Nick Harris, the fellow behind Orion Watches, loaned me an Orion for nearly three weeks in early 2017. I was interested to check out his watch because he posts a lot about his journey on his Facebook page and blog. I was curious to see how good the Orion was.

Pretty bloody good, in fact. Craftmanship is excellent, as is the size and ergonomics of it. The fact that it’s hand-made by a guy going to watchmaking school somewhere in Seattle? Even better. If you want something genuinely interesting, and a definite deviation from the typical watch found on the wrist, you can’t do better than this one.

He’s also got a new watch on the way, the Calamity, that I recommend you check out.

See also:

Movement

Automatic, Seiko NH35

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

Orion

MSRP

$450

Size

38mm

Crystal Material

Sapphire

Mido Multifort

Okay, so the Multifort shouldn’t technically be on this list since it’s currently listed on Amazon for $515… but I figured that you might want to pony up an additional $15 to pick this one up.

I reviewed the Multifort (not this specific model, but a similar model with the same movement) late 2017 and remarked that it’s a fantastic watch that’s both well-made and great looking. No hyperbole or exaggeration here: the Multifort is an aesthetic knock-out that passes scrutiny regardless of how close to it you get.

The one shown here is my preferred variation of the Multifort, though options are expansive. If you want something Swiss that isn’t a Hamilton or Tissot, check out the Mido Multifort.

See also:

Movement

Automatic, Mido Caliber 80

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

M0058301103100 (shown here)

MSRP

$1,040

Size

38mm – 42mm

Crystal Material

Sapphire

Tissot Visodate Heritage Automatic

Tissot Visodate Heritage

When I first reviewed the Tissot Visodate Heritage, I have to admit that up until that point I wasn’t too keen on Tissot watches. I didn’t care for their style. The Visodate Heritage changed all of that, and for good reason: it’s gorgeous, simple, and casual enough to be worn anytime… but dressy enough to be upscaled when needed.

Today, the Visodate Heritage remains a go-to of mine whenever I want something good-looking that won’t peacock on the wrist. In other words, whenever I want a watch that looks good and will complement my outfit – as opposed to define it – I look to the Visodate to be that watch.

IT’s got all the usual trimmings you’d expect a luxury Swiss-made watch to have: sapphire glass, and ETA-sourced automatic movement, and a domed crystal that is quite sharp. It’s a stand-out watch, for sure.

See also:

Movement

Automatic, ETA 2836-2

Water Resistance

100m / 330ft

Model Number

T0194301603101 (shown here)

MSRP

$450

Size

38mm

Crystal Material

Sapphire

James McCabe Heritage Retrograde II

James McCabe Heritage Retrograde JM-1026-08

This microbrand was a surprise hit, and what a hit it was. From the multi-colored ion-coated anti-brass case to the vintage-inspired and themed dial, the Heritage Retrograde is a gorgeous and affordable casual-wear watch that matches just about anything.

It easily dresses up, matching a more formal ensemble, or dresses down to compliment a jeans and t-shirt outfit. In all cases it proves itself to be a good looking companion that does more than tell time… it tells a story, too.

The case, in particular, is a stand-out inclusion that differentiates itself from every other watch on this list. When I first received it, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it is. That it exceeds all expectations I had for it speaks to the value it brings. I’m a huge fan.

See also:

Movement

Quartz

Water Resistance

50m / 165ft

Model Number

JM-1026-08

MSRP

$295

Size

40mm

Crystal Material

Mineral

About The Author

If it ticks or tocks, I want it on my wrist. I'm a fan of all things that keep good time, and I can't resist a great looking watch. WYCA is my way of appreciating the engineering and artistry that goes into affordable watches. My favorite watch is my Jazzmaster Auto Chrono, and the watch I wear the most is my Weekender Chronograph. I currently have 33 watches in my collection.

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